Best Dance Events of 1998Best Events of 1998
Hi Lindy Hoppers!!!
What do YOU think?
Sue Fedor
Sue Fedor
A Forest Glen fan!

What Were YOUR Favorites in 1998?

As the year ends, you may want to check out the Archive of Dance Reviews to go back over every day of dancing in 1998. If you have particular favorites, let us know by sending an e-mail to Memories of 1998.

Sue Fedor leads off the parade:

From: Sue Fedor
This is my second annual YEAR IN REVIEW. Last year, I listed my top ten events. This year, with Forest Glen Ballroom kicking into gear, it has become more difficult---mostly cuz I'm very biased. But here goes....

  1. Veteran's Day at Forest Glen Ballroom: Attendence wise, this was not the biggest draw, but talent wise, you couldn't ask for a better combination of great music (Tom Cunningham), plus live radio drama (Metro DC Radio Club). Mike Henry is truly a renaissance man, both dancing and acting. Of all the events I participated in and attended this year, this one generated the strongest reactions from participants and observers. As with all our FGB events, but mostly with this one, we owe a huge debt of gratitude to our friend, Matthew Wilkens, our audio technician and all our wonderful volunteers.
  2. Boogie Baren, Munchen: Oddly enough, we ended up trekking all the way to Germany for our first dance camp. Marcus and Barbl really know how to run a camp. The lodging was spectacular, yet extremely economical (where else can you live inside a walled fortress for $15 / day?) We reacquainted ourselves with Erik & Sylvia, met their friends, Tyra and Rich, met Rusty Frank, Rob van Haaren, and Diane Thomas. I got to mush my way through some bad boogie woogie and back lead a bunch of lindy beginners. I can now count to eight in seven languages.
  3. Buskering in Bern, Switzerland: This is what you get when all your friends are artists and bohemians. David, Steve's friend from high school, is an artist now living in Bern. He collects interesting friends who live on the margins of society. Two of those friends are buskers (travelling street performers). They played the swing music while we danced in the streets of Bern, earning enough money to pay for a tank of gas for our trip to Zurich. We also got to meet David's neighbors, "The Hot Strings of Bern". We danced on David's roof while they practiced "Lady Be Good" next door.
  4. Bill Elliot Trio at Forest Glen Ballroom: Sometimes, great things come in small packages. Given Matt's expert audio assistance and some great equipment, this trio (plus one) really raised the rafters! Jammers particularly liked the drum set up and short roll highlighting each move. What a night!
  5. Rockin' Bonz at Glen Echo: Great 50's sounds, silly European news photographers running around, and Cameron in his goofy "Leave it to Beaver" glasses.
  6. Weddings.... Not to play favorites, I am lumping them altogether. Chrissy and Mike's Wedding featured Peaches O'Dell and her He-Man Orchestra. Always a treat. Marcus and Barbl were the special guest stars, as was a vintage car around which we all posed for pictures. Chrissy changed her outfit almost as many times as Peaches. Randi-Sue and Howie's Wedding found us in Long Island, NY on Independence Day. The band was great and our small, but mighty band of intrepid dancers jammed to Lindy, disco, and Klezmer music without prejudice. Both weddings were full of spirit, family, great music and fun. We spend so much time dancing for fun and recreation, but it was at these two events where I was reminded that we also dance to celebrate life.
  7. The Hangar Dance in Frederick: This is really becoming a perennial favorite. This year featured a much better band, Swing Shift. They left the hangar doors open and there was a cool breeze. Highlights include free barbequed chicken and watching Tricia dance with the Nazis (ok, they weren't real Nazis, they were German soldiers, not necessarily Nazi party members....)
  8. BATTLE OF THE BANDZ....: It is # 8 and not higher because we were working behind the scenes. It was the first night that the Park Service started strictly enforcing fire codes, so things weren't particularly pleasant. The jam was incredible and would have been even better had we not been in it---I have not yet gotten my revenge out on Tom Koerner for that yet...just you wait. Special highlight was the seamless transition during "Sing, Sing, Sing" between Tom Cunningham & George Gee.
  9. J Street Jumpers at Forest Glen, Halloween Eve: A surprisingly successful Friday night dance. I arrived from work to find the ballroom completely decorated by Rich, one of our board members. Without going into detail, Steve gave me a rubber, severed arm for Christmas one year (he's strange that way) and it really came in handy for the dance and for Marianna's unique rendition of "All of Me."
  10. Peaches O'Dell at Glen Echo in August (8/15/98): It was hot, I was wearing my vintage two-piece purchased from Ellen W. and I did not destroy it in the jam. That was the jam where we unveiled our latest aerial where I go up on Steve's shoulders, fall back, and do a flip at the end. Guys were taking bets as to whether my top would survive, which it did, thanks to two strategically placed safety pins!

Elizabeth Engel
Elizabeth Engel
The Lady in Red

From: Elizabeth Weaver Engel

Elizabeth's "Best of 1998" dance picks, in no particular order:

  • VSO: Even though we didn't compete, it was dynamite. We had gone to one evening of VSO 1997, which was our introduction to Lindy Hop and the motivating force in getting us into Tom & Debra's beginner class last November. This year we did the whole thing, watching all the competitions (and understanding what we were watching!), taking workshops, was an incredible weekend. It was also amazing to sit back and realize how much our lives have changed in the past year. We went from people who figured we'd never be able to dance and who didn't know anyone in our new city to reasonably competent members of the dance community. What a wonderful year it's been gang! Next year I think we might even compete - don't laugh, it could happen!
  • Armed Forces Day Dance at Glen Echo: It was an evening of firsts: first vintage dress (fortunately no others have yet suffered the same fate!), first vintage ‘do, first time we saw ourselves on tape, first major ego-building compliments on our dancing from the ever-encouraging Mr. Jim Kranyak - and, most notably, first jam. It only took us 6 months, but we were finally ready to perform. Or rather, Jim was finally ready to perform and sprang it on me at the edge of the circle seconds before we went out. Everyone was so supportive of us, too, which really helped as a first jam is a nerve-wracking experience to be sure.
  • Our first trip to Vienna Grille last January 13, when PsychoBoy danced with me for the first time, Frank taught us traveling Charleston, and we both participated in our first birthday lineups. This was the first time I felt like "part of the gang" - I think it was all that cake that did it.
  • The Sevilles: benefit at the American Legion in Cheverly on January 31: 50s rock-n-roll and bikers. What more could you ask for? It was a very wacky, very fun cross cultural experience.
  • Roomful of Blues at Hollywood Ballroom on April 11. Many things about the evening were somewhat disappointing, but it was great mostly because we got to hang with the fabulous "Poetry in Motion" hand dancers, which planted the seed in our minds for...
  • Our DC Hand Dance lessons with Smooth N EZ. We're still at the "we suck" stage, but I'm really glad we did them and will be continuing to do them starting this week. The Hand Dancers are great people and excellent dancers, and I think it's really important to learn and keep alive our own regional swing variations.
  • The J Street Jumpers recording session at BET: This was the first time we'd been asked to perform. Yes, I look at the tape now and am horribly embarrassed that it's going to show up on TV at some point. But I love the Jumpers, and it was a really fun and good experience for us in helping us overcome our performance anxiety - you know, when your mind blanks out, your arms go spaghetti, and your feet become glued to the floor? Well, we're almost past that now, thanks in no small part to the BET taping.
  • Script writing parties at in May and June: We ate, we talked, we ate, we danced, we ate, we wrote, we ate, we acted silly, we ate, we edited...see a pattern? The group really had a lot of fun bouncing ideas off each other and encouraging each other to new heights of absurdity, and we were all constantly amazed at the amount of fruit Steve was able to put away. Jim still laughs about the trip to the grocery store where we were standing there in the produce aisle picking out the evening's fruit selection when, to his suggestion of kiwi, I responded: "But Steve doesn't like kiwi!"
  • The Montreal Jazz Festival: I've come to the conclusion that Big Bad Voodoo Daddy is following us. We had a wonderfully relaxing vacation as we always do at jazz festivals, we got to hear lots of great music and eat lots of great food, and we found some great stuff at Drags. But the best part was meeting new swing scene folks from a different city. Everyone we met up there was so welcoming and so into Lindy and our dancing, and we had a really grand time hanging with them for the rest of the week. Dance is truly a universal language, and dancers are a world-wide community. Maybe, just maybe, the solution to achieving world peace is to teach everyone to swing dance - Nobel Peace Prize in the future for all our intrepid DC instructors?
  • Tom and Debra's Parade of Bands - Lavay Smith, George Gee, Indigo Swing, Nick Palumbo, Dan Electro, New Morty Show...I think I'm probably missing some here...T&D have done a fabulous job of getting great bands from all over the country to come to DC and play real dance venues like CCB and Forest Glen, instead of wasting their talent and music on club crowds who don't know how to dance and who don't appreciate them. Let's hear it for our favorite local promoters!
  • ALHC: Sure, it had its problems (actually, if you believe the gossip, there were far more problems than we were all aware of at the time). But it was MCed by the incomparable Norma Miller, it featured Marcus and Barbl, Sylvia Sykes, and Sing Lim as teachers, and we got to see, meet, and dance with those fabulous kids from Ithaca. And the DC area was very well represented in the competitions and among the winners.
  • New Year's Eve with Rockin' Bonz at Glen Echo: It was freezing, but I love the Bonz and I hadn't been out to the Spanish Ballroom since October and the institution of the 2 dance format. What a wonderful way to ring in the New Year - dancing to one of my favorite bands on one of my favorite floors with many of my favorite people.

Here's to another fine year of dancing ahead!

Lisa Morgan Brown
Lisa Morgan Brown
The celebrated Lisa Morgan Brown

From: Lisa Morgan Brown

Since this is my "first annual" year as a lindy hopper, I will address all my highlights!

A brief history: I started my lindy life in classes at Glen Echo in June. My first experience with Tom and Debra (and Steve and Carla) came at Zones, also in June... around this same time I was exposed to a dance at Forest Glen. I don't even know who was playing that night. (That was before I knew names and faces, even though I did notice the really good little Asian guy on the dance floor.) Then I discovered the open dancing on Mondays at Chevy Chase when I dropped in on the New Morty Show on a Monday night. That must have been in August. Well after that, I started coming to the open dancing on Mondays on a regular basis, risking life and limb as I raced from the class at Glen Echo to CCB--in 10 minutes or less. And now, the highlights of this seven month period, in chronological order, (más o menos):

  • Indigo Swing and J Street Jumpers (separately) at Kemp Mill records downtown at lunch time. However brief, I love the lindy-in-the-middle-of-the-day concept. (I also really like that it's only 2 blocks from where I work downtown!)
  • Purchasing Bleyers It's true... This act was merely an indicator of my increasing obsession.
  • 12th Annual Savoy Swings Again camp, in September, over Labor day weekend. That hurtled me into full obsession of the lindy hop, to where I am today. It also gave me the chance to meet so many wonderful people, gals and guys, both new and experienced, in the Lindy scene.
  • The MAJOR milestone (and best highlight) was finding a partner for footwork and aerials. Yes, that little Asian guy, CAMERON! He's the best dance partner in the world!! Most of you already know what a great guy Cameron is. I would just like to say that all the good things about him are true. I have a lot of respect for him... We've been partners since October, and now we're a tour de force! (?) I've learned so much from him! (Thanks, Cameron!)
  • Learning aerials with Cameron! This is also very fun. We have a good time and he doesn't drop or injure me. Thanks to everyone who helps us by showing us moves and so on: Tom & Debra, Steve & Sue, Jeff, Naomi, Nina, Carolyn, Steve, Carla, Jim Kranyak, Iver, Eric, and everyone else!
  • My Birthday Dance on Monday October 26, 1998 at Chevy Chase ballroom, where Bernstein was persuaded against his will to play a birthday song for me. It was a real treat for me, so I hope he feels it was worth it to disrupt the momentum.
  • New Year's Eve at Glen Echo. This was a first for me, to experience the new year lindy hopping. And to Rockin' Bonz, no less. They were fantastic! New Year's Day, 1999, at America with the Tom Cunningham Orchestra.

All of these venues have been a highlight for me at one time or another, so I want to include them on my list:

  • Chevy Chase Ballroom
  • Glen Echo
  • Zones
  • America
  • Nick's
  • Lulu's
  • The Birchmere

These are the highlights of my first year as a lindy hopper. Thanks to my favorite partner Cameron, Frank for this web page, Tom and Debra for constantly bringing in new blood, and everyone who keeps it interesting!

To all the new people, keep it up! Here's to a 1999 full of lindy hopping fun!
-Lisa Morgan Brown

Matt Smiley and Gretta Thorn
Matt Smiley and Gretta Thorn
Our UVA College Correspondents

From: Matt Smiley

Here are my top three picks:

  • 3. New Years Eve At Glen Echo. This was my first huge event since coming back from school and it was just what I needed. Everybody was there, Rockin' Bones lived up to their name, and the ballroom was just the right temperature (so long as you kept dancing!). Everybody was in high spirits and the event was a beautiful 2 year Lindy aniversary for me. Technically I've been dancing for three years now (I technically started in 1996, the last three hours of '96, but '96 all the same). I truly had a blast that night.
  • 2. US Open in Los Angeles. Ok, so I walked away from the actual event blinded by the rhinestone belts and Bedazzler enhanced outfits, but I give the US Open high marks because the event was redeemed by the scene in LA. The scene in LA opened my eyes both to real vintage fashion and to Hollywood style dancing. The vintage stores out there were unlike anything I'd ever seen around here. There wasn't just one solitary rack of guys' stuff with one or two good things thrown in with junk from the 70s. There were whole sections of guys clothing devoted to menswear from the 40s and 50s. It was incredible. I was a fool not to have bought more while I was there. As far as the dancing was concerned, it was just amazing. I had an epiphany when I was out there. I thought I had a decent Hollywood style swingout, but now after seeing what those kids were doing, I feel almost ridiculous for my nievety. The dancers out there were amazingly smooth. This trip totataly changed my style of dancing, and now I can't help but dance in a slot. The scene was undescribably cool and my feeble attempt here just doesn't do it justice.
  • 1. The American Lindy Hop Championships in NJ: It was tough to chose between the trip to CA and the trip to NJ, but in the end NJ won out for top billing on my list. If you weren't there, you missed the coolest atmosphere in the world. The atmosphere generated by 200 Lindy Hoppers in one place is what made this event great. Sure, the hotel sucked and was (in my book) a huge rip off. Sure, some people had some problems collecting earnings. Sure, my videos of the event are being eagerly anticipated (weeks after the estimated arrival time). Despite all the unfortunate details of the event, I couldn't have had a better time. The best Lindy Hoppers in the world all gathered under one roof to celebrate the one thing we all had in common. It was a blast. So many memories of this events stick in my mind: The fabulous performers, that wierd butterfly chick in the costume contest, dancing until 4 in the morning, our overflowing toilet, my embarrassing Freudian slip in front of Sylvia Skylar (long story), Earnie Smith's rad video compilation, and the list just goes on forever. If I could relive one event ever, this would be the one. Woe to those of you who missed it. Sadly, I heard rumors that it doesn't look like it will happen again next year, so I'm glad I made the trek up to NJ. This one will be hard to top in 99. We'll see, though.

Lisa Morgan Brown and Cameron
Lisa Morgan Brown and Cameron Sellers
Blazing their way into 1999

From: Cameron Sellers

Here is my Top Ten List

  1. The Battle of the Bands Weekend at Glen Echo: George Gee v. The Tom Cunningham Orchestra; Erik Robson and Sylvia Skylar workshops; Marcus and Barbel; and dancing with the legendary Jean Veloz. Need I say more?
  2. My Aerial's partner, Lisa Morgan Brown: She has been and continues to be the best partner I've ever had. At first, I thought I could do aerials with her only to find out that she learns quickly and has great foot work. I don't think I can for more in a partner.
  3. College/ High School Kids: The kids injected youth and enthusiasm. They also lowered the average age of the dance community by a decade. Whether you like having them around or not, they have made us all better dancers. Thanks John, Sarah and Alex Fajakowski , Gretta Thorn, Catherine Sanchez & Andrews, Helen Soln, Mara Levy, Little Alex, Teresa Egan, Kelli Dinglemyer, Sarah Jacobson., Nina & Naomi, and Matt Smiley.
  4. Tom Koerner and Deb Sternberg: They are open to new ideas. They took the risk and brought Erik and Sylvia out here to teach us Hollywood and Collegiate Shag before the dances became popular. They helped open new venues (Nick's, America, LuLus, Zones, etc..) And brought in great bands (Indigo Swing, the New Morty Show, George Gee, etc..). While they get a bad rap sometimes for big crowds at their dance lessons and venues, this is really only a mark of their success. Washington Post may be right when they called them the "Godparents of the D.C. Swing Scene."
  5. Hollywood Lindy: Jean Veloz inspired me, Erik and Sylvia taught me, Jim Kranyak insured I didn't forget it.
  6. Forest Glen Ballroom: Steve and Sue introduced the swing community to the beautiful ballroom at Forest Glen. I will never forget the comments of first time visitors when they saw the ballroom for the first time, "Oh, my God", "Holy *#%$".
  7. Steve and Sue's House. Parties, practice on the hard wooden floor, or a place to sleep. Steve and Sue opened their house me when I needed a place to sleep on an Army Reserve weekend, place to practice new moves, and invited me over to one of their many gatherings.
  8. Armed Forces Day Dance at Glen Echo: This was the day we discovered Jim Kranyak had a digital video camera.
  9. Dance Contests (VSO, NESDC, ALHC, Zones, Lulus, Glen Echo): Whether competing for the cheap Bahama's trip at Lulu's or dancing for water at TCO's Glen Echo dance. I had fun dancing. Thanks to Gator for the fast lindy song at NESDC so Sarah and I could win. Thanks to Hutch for allowing the Juniors to compete in overall competitions at VSO. Finally, thanks to Lisa, Vicki, Gretta, Sarah F., Sue Fedor, Little Erika, Heather, Chrissy E., Carla H., Mara, and Naomi for competing with me in these dance contests.
  10. Savoy Swings Again at Buffalo Gap: The Washington Swing Dance Committee put on a great event. J Street Jumpers and the Love Dogs were great Bands. Andrew & Sing and Sylvia & Jonathan were great instructors and made the event memorable.

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